GCU optometry student named FORCE Student of the Year

15 May 2015

Fiona Buckmaster with Nick Rumney (right) and Karl Aberdeen, UK & Ireland Professional Relations Manager at CooperVision (left)

Fiona Buckmaster with Nick Rumney (right) and Karl Aberdeen, UK & Ireland Professional Relations Manager at CooperVision (left)

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) undergraduate Fiona Buckmaster has won the 2015 CooperVision Future Ocular Research Creativity Event (FORCE) European Student of the Year award.

FORCE is CooperVision’ annual competition, which aims to find the best contact lens-related research conducted by European university and college students.

The third-year BSc Optometry student initially entered the contact lens company’s Summer Research Scholarship last year, when she received a £2000 bursary to complete a research project over the summer months.

Supervised by Dr Ian Pearce, Senior Lecturer in GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences, Fiona devised and completed a project that investigated the effects of environmental conditions on the diagnosis of dry eye. She presented her findings to a panel of judges at the UK FORCE final in September 2014, where she was announced UK Student of the Year.

Fiona joined the national winners from across Europe at the European FORCE final, which took place in Budapest, Hungary, last month. All of the students presented their findings to an international judging panel made up of researchers and clinicians, including Chairman Nick Rumney, BRR Optometry Ltd, and Dr Dorota Szczesna Iskanderm, Wroclaw University of Technology.

On presenting Fiona with the European Student of the Year award on behalf of the judges, Nick Rumney said: “Fiona challenged orthodoxy by overturning our understanding of a technique we thought was familiar. She approached the subject rigorously and scientifically, and she designed an elegant experiment which was, at heart, simple but gave results and conclusion of great clarity.”

Dr Pearce said: “I’d like to congratulate Fiona for carrying out an excellent piece of research and presenting her findings with confidence and clarity.

“Fiona should be proud of her efforts; she is a great advertisement for the BSc Optometry programme here at GCU.”

Fiona said: “The whole experience has opened my eyes to some of the opportunities that are available through doing research and meeting with people from different aspects of optometry”.

Fiona’s prize is a full delegate package, including travel and accommodation, to the Nederlands Contactlens Congres, which will take place in Eindhoven next year.